Unique Chess Boards – For Tournaments or Luxury
You can’t have a great chess set without having a great board, so I wanted to review some of the more unique chess boards I’ve encountered.
You might think the board is the simple part. It can be, depending upon what you’re looking for in your set. As long as you know the right square size for your pieces, you can certainly get a perfectly adequate chess board. If you’re looking for something a little more unique? well, then things get a little more complicated. Are you looking for a wooden board, or are you more interested in a marble or glass option? Do you need a folding board you can put away, or do you want a really unusual item, such as a vertical chess board to put on your wall? There are lots of options, so i’ll do my best to give you some idea of all the great chessboards out there. I’ll even discuss electronic chess boards in a section below!
Marble, Metal, and Glass Chess Board
The truth is when someone budgets for a chess set, they often focus much more on the chess pieces than the board. This is natural and normal. If you only have a limited budget, many would rather get fantastic pieces and a simple board instead of the other way around. There are, however, some unique options that won’t break the bank.
The first are marble chess boards. You’ll often find these in chess set form, but many manufacturers and suppliers will also offer them separately. There are a wide variety of colors; black, red, boticino (creme), marina,and even coral (where you can see shells within the stone!). These boards can make a chess set really stand out if it fits your design aesthetic.
Obviously these look best with marble pieces, but they can also work with metal, wood, or some theme style chess pieces as well. The downside of marble chess boards are that they are sometimes hard to come by on their own (always ask a store if it’s possible to get it separately if you do not see it as an option!), and also they are fragile, heavy, and limited in size. Most marble boards only have squares that are 1 1/2″ or 1 3/4″ as the very large ones become so cumbersome in fragile it’s a dangerous proposition to ship. Limit these to your smaller chess pieces.
Glass boards are another unique option to consider. Once again, these are almost always found in a chess set form, but when they are separate they are light and very affordable. A glass board can look really modern, as some are black glass, mirror glass, or even have silver or metallic highlights. These work great with metal or theme chess pieces to create some really cool chess boards.
Metal Chess Boards are another option for something unique, especially for metal or theme chess pieces. Again this allows either an old world or modern look depending upon how you set it up.
Wooden Chess Boards and Vertical Chess Boards
If you’re looking for something more traditional, there are tons of wooden boards that are unique and different. Not only are there the traditional veneer and inlaid options, but there are also ‘butcher block’ style chess boards that are solid blocks of exotic woods and chess boards with elaborate or modern borders (such as the pyramidal style of chess board). Of course, there are also other unique chess boards in various shapes and sizes, such as our fortress board. All together, these cool chess boards can make a set look very modern or very rustic, depending on taste!
Another wooden option would be vertical chess boards. This is actually the style of chess board I have in my home and I think it really makes the chess set a great piece of art. Instead of taking up surface space, the board hangs on the wall like a picture. The wooden board has a picture-frame like border with numerous options and styles, and acrylic shelves to hold the chess pieces of your choosing.
If you don’t have the space to put a chess board out but really appreciate the artistic side of chess, these are a great way to go. You can put a different position on the board when not in use to change up the overall aesthetic, and a chess board on the wall is very pet resistant! The only downside is actually playing – you certainly can, but it is not an ideal way to play the game. The dimensions limit you slightly as well, and you can only have a 3″ high king to make the set fit comfortably (and allow you to reach the whole board!)
Electronic Chess Boards
I’ll discuss chess computers in detail at a later time, but electronic chess games have long been a popular chess item. These boards always come with pieces, so unfortunately at the time of this post you simply cannot get an electronic board on its own.
That being said, many of the plastic models are pressure sensitive, meaning you can replace the chess pieces and use your own to make your own unique option. This is somewhat limited by the small size of the playing surface for most of these boards.
There are some electronic boards with wooden pieces, and even one with a slightly larger overall board size – but this pales in comparison to past decades when there were dozens of such board. Unfortunately PC, Tablet, and smartphone gaming have put a tight squeeze on the electronic chess computer market.
Of course, there are tons of other chessboards out there. Folding chess boards are somewhat limited, but can be very useful. There interlocking wooden chess boards for outdoor use, and a variety of roll-up tournament chess board options. There’s simply too many to review in one post.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send me an email or put a comment down below.